Well well well. This is, unless it’s a fake (and if it’s a fake, it’s a pitch-perfect one),* a 1977 Soviet review of Star Wars. The section tags on the left and on the bottom read “Mass Culture ‘77” and “Their Sensations.” Translation below.
*UPDATE: Through the magic of instant Facebook feedback, we now have a testament to the review’s authenticity: a gentleman who remembers reading it in 1977 and obsessing over it.
CINE-HORRORS IN SPACE
This summer, a new wave of cinematic psychosis washed over American movie theaters. According to the press, War of the Stars, by American director George Lucas, is beating all box-office records: 60 million dollars in the very first month of release. Morning to midnight, War of the Stars plays to packed auditoriums. To get in, one needs either to spend several hours in line or to buy a scalped ticket for an unbelievable price of 50 dollars.
And thus, after demons, mass catastrophes and giant sharks, the American screens are now home to a horror of truly cosmic proportions: monstrous tyrants terrorizing our galaxy. Waging the battle against them are the film’s heroes — a round-faced princess, a village youth, an old knight of the Round Table, an ape-man and two robots. One of those, the giant, gilded Tripio, has the gift of human speech; the other, Artu-Detu, looks like an automobile and expresses himself with “space” signals.
The film’s plot, as reported by the French weekly L’Express, is quite primitive.
But to scare the denizen even further, the film’s creators deploy the perfect weapon - a laser beam that the characters use in battle like a rapier. Time and again, nightmarish monsters fill the screen: a lizard man, faceless gnomes, a live mummy with the tube-riddled head, fantastical animals… In conjunction with the shooting of this soul-chilling “masterpiece,” which the director George Lucas calls “a futuristic Western,” several analogous commercial operations have been implemented in the U.S. Ballantine Publishers have put out an eponymous novel. Marvel Comic Book, a publishing house specializing in comics, struck a deal with Fox film studios and, having divided the script into six parts, have begun to publish a monthly comic album with the War of the Stars plotline. Soon after that classic mass-culture attributes - pins, T-shirts, advertising posters, soundtrack records - have appeared too. And come New Year’s, the shops should be receiving shipments of children’s toys as well: a miniature Artu-Detu, capable of producing the same sounds as its inspiration, and a gilded Tripio. The film’s main “discovery” - a toy laser rapier - hasn’t been invented yet, but the work on its creation has already begun.
In the next few weeks, the American screens will host the next installment of War of the Stars, which is likely to be as mediocre as it is to be lucrative. No surprise there. The mass audience willingly “gobbles up” such pieces of “art,” all in order to leave the theater feeling that the life outside is nice after all.